Notes from the Front Line

It’s CTIA time. I’m in Orlando enjoying 80 degree weather from a well air conditioned conference room. As CTIA doesn’t officially begin until tomorrow, we are all in various pre-conference conference meetings. Based on my experiences with business conventions, I’ve complied a list of the types of conference attendees you are likely to find in each and every session.

The Old Man – You are pretty sure he should be retired. Must be an owner. Everyone keeps an eye on him in case he keels over suddenly.

The Hangover – He walked in late drawing the eyes of most. A tiny swagger shows how little he cares. Naturally tan with wavy that-Horatio-guy-from-CSI hair. Wears aviators indoors because last night’s cocktails turned into this morning’s bloody marys.

The Networker – She loves her skirt suits and classy pumps for their ‘professionalism’. Will spend all day on her BlackBerry. Usually a manager of sorts, she can command a room, but her greatest asset is being a Gladwell-esque ‘Connector’. Won’t remember much from any sessions she sat in on.

The N00b – The only one who came in jeans. Makes up for it by taking an obscene amount of notes.

The Sleeper – Blink, blink, yawn… out.

The Foreigner – Better dressed & smarter than you (if only because they speak multiple languages).

The Demi-Geek – Surrounds himself with a 6-month-old smartphone, almost new tablet, water bottle, and a folded up NYT or WSJ (depending on political leaning). Only uses the tablet as it still takes  while to tap out an email on it.

The Nerd – Takes copious notes including suggestions they plan to tell the speaker about when he/she steps off stage.

The Average Jane / Joe – Nearly every other person in the room. They glup coffee to stay alert and take down notes wondering if they’ll ever come in handy. Check mobile every quarter hour longing to be needed. Business casual. Found limping by day’s end.

The Speaker Expert – Subject matter expert. Speaks in a low, interested, sleep-inducing voice. Struggles to dumb it down. Loves asking challenging questions of other speakers.

The Expert Speaker – Expert public speaker who excels in bring the discussion down to a level most of the audience understands. Answers all semi-technical questions with “That is a good question. Why don’t you come talk to me after?” By which he / she means I’ll need your email so I can email you whatever answer my team provides. Can be found in many sessions trying to throw the PowerPoint together before his / her session is scheduled.

The Expert Speaker Expert – rare like an albino squirrel.


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